December 29, 1997
Winter preparedness in Washington--Safety tips for motorists
With the New Year approaching, and the weather turning wet and colder, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Washington State Emergency Management, and Washington State Department of Transportation encourage individuals, families and businesses to be prepared. When driving under potentially dangerous weather conditions is unavoidable:
* Never attempt to drive through water on a road. Water can be deeper than it appears and water levels can rise very quickly. Cars buoyed by flood-waters can float out of control. Wade through floodwaters only if the water is not flowing rapidly and only in water no higher than the knees. If the car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground (floodwaters may still be rising and the car could be swept away).
* If you are caught in a snowstorm or blizzard and your car becomes immobilized, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Do not attempt to walk from the car unless you can see a definite safe haven at a reasonable distance. Turn on the auto engine for brief periods to provide heat, but always leave a down-wind window open slightly to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning (make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow). Leave the dome light on at night to signal rescuers, and exercise occasionally by clapping hands or moving around.
Auto emergency kits should contain as a minimum: blankets and warm clothing, booster cables and tools, bottled water, canned fruits and nuts, first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, traction mats or chains, a shovel, and emergency prescription medication. Libraries, local emergency management offices and local chapters of the American Red Cross offer a wealth of information booklets, pamphlets, checklists and brochures on emergency preparedness and mitigation techniques. "Electronic" preparedness and mitigation tips are available through FEMA's 24-hour FAX-on-Demand service at (202) 646-FEMA, and the FEMA Website at http://www.FEMA.gov.